Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Missional Muslims III: Letter to a Muslim student

I posted some responses to S's videos challenging the straw men that they presented as Christianity. Last night he wrote me, bothered that I was "taking taking everything seriously and asking fanatical questions" in public on FB, so he removed me from his Wall. Mercifully, however, he still will talk to me off the record. Here is what I wrote him. Please pray for this fine young man, and even more for me, that I will be able to speak Christ's Truth in love.

Dear S.,

Forgive me if I have offended you! I really like you too, and I don't want to lose you as a friend.

As a philosophy professor, it is my calling to ask hard questions and engaging in deep discussions. In the West, we do that in public all the time. Sometimes I forget that not everyone is used to that, and so I apologize. I did not mean to come off as "fanatical," only as one who sincerely loves truth, and seeks to have more of it. My desire is to be able to find truths we both share, so that we can together glorify God.

One way of doing that, when people disagree about what consititutes God's word, is by working from the other direction, using their minds to consider:

1) if there are any contradictions in what is being said (for, like Muslims, I believe contradictions are signs of error)

2) if what is being said can account for a person's objective and subjective experience. (The more it can, the more truth there is to what is being said)

3) if what is being said can be put into practice, and lived out. (In English, we say this is being able to "walk your talk." If someone says, "Do what I say, not what I do," we tend to be skeptical of them.)

You know that I do not accept the Qu'ran, just as I know you do not accept the Old and New Testament. We can't discuss "from the top down" so we have to work "from the bottom up," using something like these three criteria to arrive at truth. I must admit I am confused, because what I took away from the videos you were showing was that people like Deen and the young married couple were interested in truth as well, and were using their minds to consider these three criteria, applying them toward Christianity.

Deen in particular was saying that the Incarnation is a contradiction: that God cannot take on human flesh. Not only would it be "beneath him," it would be *logically impossible,* so that anyone who believed Jesus was fully God and fully man would be like a person who believes there are square circles. I was only trying to show that what Deen supposed was a contradiction really was NOT a contradiction, so that the incarnation is at least *logically* possible, and is not an immediate sign of error.

From what I have read of Al Farabi, أبو نصر محمد الفارابي Averroes ابن رشد‎ and Avicennaابن سینا ‎ , it seems that there is a long tradition of Muslim philosophers, so I am thinking Islam welcomes both faith and reason. Is that not correct? Those great Muslim philosophers were responsible for re-introducing Aristotle to the West during the Middle Ages in Europe, which was a very important thing! They helped inspire my great philosophical hero, St. Thomas Aquinas, who also thought it was important to find a place for both faith and reason in Christianity.

S., I promise not to talk about these things any more with you, because I value our friendship and I don't want you to be upset with me. But I wonder if you know any Muslim philosophers that I could dialogue with. As I wrote above, I am a person who sincerely loves truth, and seeks to have more of it. My desire is to be able to find the truths both Muslims and Christians share, and to remove the false teachings we have about each other, so that we can together glorify God.

I apologize that this has gotten so long! Please do not be angry with me!

God bless you,


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